I very highly recommend the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi.
This book has increased my respect for Islam. I am impressed by the discipline Muslims have. For example, every day they pray three times. And not just in private either – they are very open about it. It can even be a social thing. I wish rituals like this were more common in Christianity to encourage a more consistent prayer life.
This book also increased my faith in Christ. By watching Qureshi go through his journey from devout Muslim to Christian, I really got a sense of how attractively and convincingly Christianity can be presented. Of course, I am quite biased when it comes to being convinced of Christianity, since I myself am a Christian. I think that my bias probably makes Qureshi’s story more satisfying.
It may be helpful to put myself in the shoes of someone who does not believe in Christ who might read this book. As an example, I doubt there would be much in this book that would convince an atheist of the existence let alone the power of Christ to change lives. Qureshi clearly believed in God from the outset. At no point did he even question the existence of God. He simply questioned whether the God he had been worshiping was the god of Muhammad or whether he was the father of Jesus Christ.
There is one part of the book that I think would be especially unconvincing for someone who questions the existence of the Christian Father God. Qureshi was struggling with some horrible acts of Muhammad that he had learned about – for example, that Muhammad ordered his men to rape women. The obvious issue with Qureshi’s struggle is that the Old Testament states that God called for behavior from the Israelites that was every bit as violent and disturbing.
In another book I’ve been reading – Saying No to God by Matthew Korpman – Korpman expresses his distress that many Christians try to defend some of the things that God seems to condone in the Old Testament. He brings up the example of Numbers 31 where God commands Moses to “Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people.” This leads to Moses and the Israelites slaughtering the Midianites – even women and children – and sparing only the virgins. In fact, the Israelites even spared the women and children before Moses commanded them to “kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately.” There are a number of different views of texts like these. Korpman’s view is that God didn’t actually want people slaughtered or virgins forcefully taken as wives. I’m not sure if that’s the right answer or not, but texts like these certainly place the God of the Old Testament in a similar light to the Muhammad that Qureshi ultimately rejected as a prophet. I would like to know how Qureshi resolved issues like this in his own mind.
All that to say, it was difficult for me to relate to Qureshi’s struggle with Muhammad’s violence when there are many Christians who have left the faith due to accounts of God’s violence. I think violence is something that needs to be addressed when considering either of these Abrahamic religions. Unfortunately, that’s a much bigger topic than I’d like to get into in this blog post.
I believe I’ve established that this book probably wouldn’t be effective at converting someone who didn’t already believe in a deity of some description. I think it’s telling, though, that Qureshi makes it fairly clear how you could convert someone – through friendship. Qureshi’s friendship with David Wood lead to him being converted. Wood also met an atheist girl and was instrumental in her conversion. So I see that it’s through relationship with people that conversion happens. If Wood hadn’t become very close friends with Qureshi, there is no way that Qureshi would have listened to anything that Wood had to say.
It is the description of friendship between Qureshi and David Wood in this book that really had an impact on me. It is profound what an effect we can have on other people if we truly care about them. That was my main takeaway from the book – befriend those around me. Show my care for them and live my life in a way that honors God. That is the most effective way I can witness. I definitely recommend that you read this book.